The essence of all three approaches to healing that I am planning to cover is the same. It is rooted in what I have previously called the Doctrine of Original Awesomeness (https://dandolderman.org/2020/09/22/88-jordan-peterson-part-7-psychology-at-the-ending-of-the-world-subsection-2-the-doctrine-of-original-awesomeness/). This, in short, is the basic starting point of Humanism, and is increasingly recognized within the bio-psycho-social sciences as “the way we are”. It is the belief that people are, intrinsically, oriented towards generally “good” things — compassion, striving for excellence, curiousity, humour, social connection, appreciation of beauty, kindness, community, music, dance, spiritual development, respect, etc.
This is in stark contrast to the ridiculously tragic Doctrine of Original Sin that has guided so much of our intellectual, moral, and societal development for a very long time now. I have argued elsewhere that the Original Sin idea has given us a whole host of unhealthy practices that stifle growth and limit the flourishing of our societies, instead locking us into a scarcity-fear mentality, which then functions to transfer power from the Collective (the 99%) to the Hierarchy (the 1%). In other words, by believing we suck, we give up our power to the State/Ruler/Church, who then A) tell us even more how much we suck; and B) exploit our labour and transfer our wealth to the already-wealthy-and-therefore-in-charge.
At the personal level, our development largely mirrors and recapitulates the development of our society. Many (most?) of us were parented and raised in strict hierarchies of power (in which we were at, or very near, the bottom). Those at the top regularly viewed us as the rabble who need to be “taught right from wrong”, guided by “discipline”, backed up by punishment, or in recent decades, excessive rewards, both of which are toxic to healthy development. In other words, believing that we suck, we were treated like we sucked and needed to obey authority figures so that we could eventually learn not to suck so much.
The result? The intended result, at least = Obedient children, who turn into obedient citizens, who become obedient workers, and obedient voters, content to choose among choices that themselves only allow for certain results, namely that the Power Hierarchy remain in place, and The Collective remains disempowered and obedient.
The actual result is, of course, the trauma that this entire series of posts is about, the trauma you no doubt experienced growing up, inherited from the trauma of your parents and ancestors, passed down through the whole fractal web of socialization, environmental, and genetic processes, for so, so, so many generations.
So if I ever seem rather negative, when talking about things like Dominance Hierarchies and Jordan Peterson’s snake-oil philosophy, or religion and the institutional abuse of power, or governments and their propensity for war and exploitation of the under-benefited classes, or gaslighting and narcissism, or child abuse, etc.etc.etc., it is because of this massive web of intergenerational suffering that you inherited, I inherited, and we are now left with the task of doing the hard, often excruciating work of healing from. I spent much of my life too “polite”, self-conscious, or just depressed, to truly speak out and stand up for the Good. And I’m just not willing to hold back anymore. Those of us who have felt silenced for much of our lives (and isn’t that most of us?), have swallowed our truths, swallowed our anger, swallowed our grief and rage and intuition and deep Knowing that the way things are is just not right. We have carried the scars inflicted by the powerful in our bodies, hearts, and souls for so long, carrying the legacy of other people’s refusal to heal and choose kindness over greed.
I don’t consent to doing this anymore. And you know, I don’t really care what the consequences are, for me. Speaking out will undoubtedly make you enemies. But it will also make you friends, supporters, and witnesses who will see your example and, perhaps, feel inspired to tap into their own authenticity. And even IF it doesn’t, even IF the consequences seem all bad, I still don’t care. You do what’s right. And that’s it. It’s as simple as that, to your Heart.
Speaking to your Heart
In essence, all three approaches I will outline boil down to “speaking to your heart”. It’s just that the language you use is rather different in each case. But in each case, what you are doing is getting to know yourself more deeply, more gently, more kindly, and more authentically. You are discovering, or perhaps remembering, “who you really are”, and then you are learning to live within that awareness more fully, more courageously, more “You”.
As far as I’m concerned, healing is dramatically NOT about self-improvement. It’s NOT the positivity movement. It’s not changing yourself, fixing yourself, or achieving anything, really. It’s not goals. It’s not a vision board. It’s not “believe until you achieve.” It’s just BEING, yourSelf. It’s learning/remembering to be who you already are. Who you were born as. Who you have always been.
Because, if you were born Awesome, a growth-oriented, communally responsive being who, inspired by sheer curiousity and the joy of mastery, sought to explore your world and develop a harmonious relationship with the other beings in your world, then truly, there’s nothing to “fix”. There was nothing wrong in the first place. You are not “fundamentally flawed”. No, you are “fundamentally awesome”, but you have been given a burden to carry by others. So, you carry it. Healing is learning how to set it down, and once again walk as the Free Being that you are.
And further, healing is learning to tap into the wisdom and strength that carrying this burden has given you. Because at the deepest level, even trauma carries gifts. Gifts earned by paying a terrible price, to be sure, but gifts nonetheless. So healing is about first rediscovering your inner, awesome Self, and second, embracing the growth and wisdom that life, thus far, has given you, through both the joys of your life and the suffering.
You are now, not only Awesome, but Awesomer. One of the first things you will likely learn (and this will be part of the next essay on “Rational Self-Analysis”), is exactly how much you have to offer to that which you love.
Maybe this sounds idealistic. Especially if you are currently “in the dark”, and struggling. So let’s stop talking philosophically and abstractly and start talking pragmatically, specifically, about what to do, how to heal, so that all this maybe starts to sound a little more real, and within reach.
That’s next, as we explore Approach #1: Rational Self-Analysis.